We will take a look at the final part of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed this week. It reads, “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”
As usual, we will also consider Luther’s corresponding explanation. He writes, “All this he has done that I may be his own, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.”
Admittedly, once you have considered our Lord’s death and resurrection you have touched on the core of the Christian Faith, the crucial work of our salvation. What follows is Jesus’ enthronement. He indeed rules and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and if for a time he laid aside the prerogatives of his rule (cf. Phil. 2:7) for his critical work in our redemption, it is once again clear that the Incarnate One is the King over all!
That he will come again to judge the living and the dead, or as it was put in older language, “the quick and the dead”, is often overlooked in our day. Yet Scripture teaches that we will all stand before the judgment seat at Christ’s return! And there are none of us that will be able to stand on our own merits. We all justly deserve condemnation. But for those who do not stand on their own merits, but instead have donned the robes of the Holy One’s righteousness given as a gift, they will be acquitted of the charge of rebellion to God’s rule.
Looking for Christ’s return at the end of the age is another way of speaking of having faith in Christ. For it is then that believers will receive the fullness of what has been promised them.
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of All Saints’ Day?
The significance is expressed in the hymn The Church’s One Foundation, the fifth stanza: “And mystic sweet communion / With those whose rest is won.” We certainly mourn in death the physical separation with our loved ones, but the Church affirms that the dead in Christ are very much alive and are present with our Lord. We further believe in the Resurrection of the dead on the last day, and our joyful reunion with the saints of all the ages in the eternal kingdom of our Lord. Therefore we can speak of our dearly departed as being a part of the Church Triumphant while we remain the Church Militant. On the festival of All Saints we direct our attention to the richness of Christian history, and the manifold workings of God’s grace through the lives of believers who have gone before us. It is also an appropriate time to honor the memory of those members of our congregation who have died.